Felix Salmon

Debt demand datapoint of the day

February 16, 2010

Insofar as there’s a decline in lending going on these days, it’s a function of both lower demand for credit and of reduced willingness to lend on the part of banks. Bloomberg has a startling datapoint on the demand side:

The Greek derivatives aren’t Goldman’s fault

February 16, 2010

The first thing you have to know about the Greece-Goldman story is that the definitive account was published by Nick Dunbar of Risk magazine in July 2003. He kicked off by saying that the deals he was writing about “are likely to prove controversial” — he probably never guessed just how controversial they would end up being, nor how long it would take them to achieve that status.

Simmons leaves Goldman’s board

February 13, 2010

On Tuesday, Brown president Ruth Simmons explained that the decision as to whether she should continue to sit on the board of Goldman Sachs was a complex one which would not be taken lightly:

The marriage of Figaro and paywalls

February 12, 2010

France’s Le Figaro has unveiled its own freemium version of a paywall, and it’s an interesting model. Fresh news is free; old news disappears into an archive. Once you’ve registered, you can get emailed newsletters and can comment on articles; if you pay €8 per month you get French versions of New York Times articles and 30 articles per month from the archive, as well as various social-networking bells and whistles. And for €16 per month you can get 90 stories from the archive, as well as two business newsletters, and a concierge service for restaurant and travel reservations.

The destruction of the Polaroid photo collection

February 12, 2010

I’m disappointed in the way in which the NYT’s Carol Vogel swallowed the disingenuous rationalizations of the vandals tearing apart the unique and irreplaceable Polaroid photography collection:

Financial reform in the Senate

February 12, 2010

I’m more than a little confused about the political jostling surrounding the financial-reform bill in the Senate. In the wake of Chris Dodd giving up talking to Dick Shelby and deciding to work with Bob Corker instead, he’s put out a statement saying that “I am more optimistic than I have been in several weeks” about the prospects for the bill, and Daniel Indiviglio is surely right when he says that “it’s definitely a significant development that even one Republican is willing to work with Dodd”.

Mike Konczal is a renter

February 12, 2010

Mike Konczal is on a roll these days, pointing out how there’s a strong tendency towards having one rule for the rich and another for the poor. On Wednesday he pointed out that when Fed governor Kevin Warsh called for banks to have “readily comparable” funding sources, he was really calling for exactly the kind of vanilla option that Barney Frank lost no time in removing from the act creating a Consumer Financial Protection Agency. The following day, he drew a bead on those — South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer among them — calling for drug tests to be administered to anybody claiming welfare payments:


February 12, 2010

Microlender Accion USA Avoids ‘Antipoverty’ Pitch — American Banker

Online Robbery: Hackers Steal $50,000. Bank Says ‘Tough Luck’ — MoneyWatch

The problems with a nationwide VMT tax

February 11, 2010

Andrew Samwick calls a tax on vehicle miles travelled (VMTs) “one of the most ridiculous policy proposals I’ve read in a while”, and Ryan Avent responds with a defense of the idea. The weird thing, here, is that they’re both right. Samwick agrees with Avent that congestion charges — essentially VMT taxes which vary according to the route you take and the time of day that you drive — are “worthwhile policy measures”. And it’s pretty clear that if we’re going to have congestion charges, we’re going to need to implement some kind of VMT-tax technology. (I’m a fan of Skymeter, myself.)